Gadgets alone can't help education sector

Tech gadgets alone will bring limited gains, but a holistic strategy combining teacher training, high-quality digital content and observing best practices offer better value in the classroom.
Written by Swati Prasad, Contributor

Adopting gadgets in isolation won't work for the education sector. A research study involving more than 300 educators from around the world revealed that using both interactive whiteboards and personal devices such as tablets or PCs in the classroom provides more value than using either on its own.

This is because having device variety enhances the educator's ability to shift easily between whole-class, small group and individual learning.

"Educators additionally indicated that interactive whiteboards can drive more value than PCs or tablets alone," the study said.

The study was conducted by Filigree Consulting, an independent consulting firm specializing in technology research, on behalf of SMART Technologies Inc, a leading provider of collaboration solutions. Administrators, teachers and IT specialists from North America, the United Kingdom, India, Europe and Asia, encompassing a range of school and jurisdiction sizes, participated in the research.

Training, observing best practices vital
The study also found that instructional technology works most effectively when it is combined with teacher training, high-quality digital content and implementation of best practices.

According to the findings, 70 percent of educators who had a high level of collaborative learning combined with best practices received above average returns on their investments in tech, including gains in student achievement.

By contrast, nearly half of the educators who had implemented instructional technology without a developed strategy reported below average returns.

It concluded that while the best value from technology adoption comes from those who implement a variety of instructional technology tools and focus on best practices, only 20 percent of those surveyed had achieved this level of maturity.

"It takes more than technology to transform classrooms into collaborative learning environments," Jeff Lowe, vice president of marketing at SMART Technologies, said in a statement.

"This research clearly shows that a comprehensive instructional technology solution, supported by a strategy that includes professional development, digital content and a strong implementation plan, delivers the greatest value from technology and enables improved student outcomes."

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